20 August 2008

Autosomal DNA for genealogy

Did you hear the one about the Englishman, Irishman and Dutchman who went into a pub ... no, hold that ... it's so yesterday.

The new version is they went into a genetic analysis laboratory and, along with 2,511 other individuals belonging to 23 different subpopulations, widely spread over Europe, they had their DNA tested.

The test results, according to an article in the New York Times reporting on a paper in Current Biology, showed them to be genetic brothers, quite distinct from some other Europeans ... Finns, Poles, Hungarians, Italians, Spanish, and Portuguese.

This is just one exciting result now appearing from analysis of autosomal DNA, that's the DNA in chromosomes in the cell nucleus that aren't the sex chromosomes Y (commonly used in genealogy DNA testing) or X

Unlike Y-DNA, the autosomes are subject to variation not only as a result of occasional mutations, but also owing to cross-overs between chromosomes donated by the mother and father. Electronic SNP-chips capable of analysing 500,000 chromosome locations are helping to unravel the complexity of autosomal DNA inheritance.

The technology and understanding appear to be developing fast. I look forward to exciting new advances leading to new help for genealogists from massive autosomal DNA analysis.

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